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Cooking Nanta show in Seoul


5 months ago5 min read

The Nanta show is the longest running show in Korea since it premiered in Oct 1997. I love percussion, even though I can't play any instruments at all. And ever since I watched the Stomp in London some years ago I've always been on a lookout for similar shows elsewhere. Nanta is similar to Stomp. It includes music, dance, comedy, acrobats, and making a great show out of every day objects. The only major difference is the setting. Stomp is street based, and Nanta is kitchen based.


I booked my tickets a week in advance to watch the show at the Myeongdong Theater. Myeongdong is one of the main shopping areas in Seoul, and visited by many tourists, and locals. However, when I was meeting with a Korean friend earlier that afternoon, she says to seldom comes to Myeongdong. I guess that's a bit like when I was living in London, I rarely go to Oxford Street. Perhaps those who have moved on in life, stay away from the city!

Nanta Theater

When I got to the theater based on where Google map told me to go, I saw the sign outside the building but couldn't find the theater entrance. The building was the Korean National Commission for UNESCO not a theater. It was really odd. I even walked down the side of the building but it was just shops there, no theater.

I peeped inside the building lobby, and that's when I saw the Nanta sign. There were directions to go up the stairs to the third floor. What they didn't tell people, and would have been nice, is that the elevator is on the left!!!

Perhaps they did this delibarately as they wanted visitors to see all the show's posters as we walk up the three flight of stairs. Since Nanta started in 1997, they have performed in 58 countries in 318 cities around the world. This included their intenational debut in 1999 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in UK, the largest art performance festival in the world. They also did a one and a half year residency at the Minetta Lane Theater (off Broadway) in New York, the first Asian show to do that.

The ticket lobby is quite small and as it was near showtime, people were already waiting to go in. I browsed at the promotion products on sale. They had a lot of the really cute characters on the different products and I bought a little chef magnet which is now sticking proudly on my fridge. Magnets are my only must buy when I go away now, as it's a nice way to remember my trips. I figured its pointless buying other memorabilia as they just take up too much space at home.


Finally it was time to go in. I got the VIP tickets which is just another fancy name for stall seats as opposed to balcony seats upstairs and at the back. They cost nearly 50,000 won each, that's around USD41. If you book early enough, I think you you could bag tickets for as low as USD35 online and I'm not sure if they flog them cheap if you buy just before showtime.

You don't need to understand Korean to understand the show as there isn't much speaking. Where there was, it was in simple short English words so everyone can understand it. The focus was more on facial and body expression.

The show is about a crew of kitchen staff, their manager, and his useless nephew who he employs in the kichen but can't cook. There is a lot food chopping in the kitchen. Cabbage and cucumbers fly all over the stage floor as the crew perform their knive skills which is in fact a great percussion performance. Sweeping the floor and mixing food in the saucepan becomes another energetic part of the show. Then there is real cooking on stage, and the whole theater suddenly smells of the delicious stir fry. This is a very interactive show, and the audience are invited to go on stage to help make dumplings and soup. The finale is an electrifying percussion performance on massive water plastic drums. I dont' know how long this part went on for. After all, who keeps on checking their watch when they're enjoying themselves? I just know not long enough. And before I knew it, the two hour show flew by as quick as lightning.

Sadly I don't have any photos to show you of the show, but I would highly recommend the show if you're in Seoul. You won't regret it if you love percussion like I do.

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